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Allergy season: How to get some relief this year

With spring around the corner, sunny skies and warmer weather are on the horizon, but so are allergies. Due to the precipitation from this year’s heavy winter, this year’s allergy season is shaping up to be a doozy.

So if you suffer from allergies prepare in advance. Tree pollen is typically the first to pour out, and can travel through the air up to 200 miles.

Nasal sprays, such as Nasonex or Flonase might take a couple of weeks before the medication begins to hit your system. So it might be a good idea to build up your body’s defense ahead of time. But don’t pop pills to prepare for allergies; instead, take antihistamines only when you need them.

Tips for outsmarting allergies
First, people who do suffer from seasonal allergies should consider switching allergy medications frequently. Long-term use of the same medication can build up the body's tolerance to the drug, which reduces the drug's effectiveness. For people who do not want to pop a pill every day, some natural alternatives might be effective. Several studies have found that eating a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce allergy symptoms.

While some types of foods can improve allergy symptoms, others can worsen them. Some fruits, such as apples and melons contain similar proteins to pollen, which can cause similar allergy symptoms.

Aside from foods and medications, people can reduce the effects of allergies by avoiding them in general. Pollen counts are typically the highest from 5 to 10 a.m. People with bad allergies should avoid staying outdoors too long during those hours; however, if you do find yourself outdoors, make sure that you take frequent showers and change your clothes often to ensure that any pollen is washed off and not tracked into your house. Also, keeping your windows closed and changing your air conditioning filters often are other good ways to keep pollen out. You can also check daily pollen counts and avoid stepping outdoors too often if the count is extremely high.

The Southeast averages an overlap between the burst of allergy-inducing tree pollen season in the spring and the grass pollen allergy season of summer, whereas the North will usually get a reprieve.

To get some relief from their symptoms, try over-the-counter medications like Claritin and Zyrtec or even prescription antihistamines. Nasal sprays can provide faster-acting relief, but many will require a prescription.

Even though avoiding allergies completely is impossible, finding ways to alleviate the symptoms will help you get through the next few months.

Dr. David B. Samadi is the Chairman of the Department of Urology and Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He is a board-certified urologist, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of urological disease, with a focus on robotic prostate cancer treatments. Dr. Samadi joined Fox News Channel in 2009 as a medical contributor. To learn more please visit his websites RoboticOncology.com and SMART-surgery.com. Find Dr. Samadi on Facebook.